Monday, February 29, 2016


From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
(Matthew 16:21-23 ESV)
Jesus knew Who He was and why He had come.  He was in tune with the Father's plan, and was set on seeing it through.  His mind was clear; His heart was pure; His resolve unstoppable.  Peter tried to get in the way.  He had a better plan in his mind; he had his heart on other things; he was a stubborn man.  How he must have been taken back by Jesus' rebuke! He was making himself a stumbling block on the way.  He was being short-minded - a spiritual short-sightedness.  Why? He was stopping in his thinking at the "Killed" part of Jesus' prediction.  He was not looking to the resurrection.  We do the same thing. We set our minds on this world, this side of eternity, and the illusions that Satan throws before our eyes every day. We become his accomplices in spiritual crime - thinking we can (and should) get in the way of God's plan.  As we work our way towards the celebration of the Passion of Christ, let us not be short-minded.  Let us look to the Resurrection and beyond, so we do not put any obstacles in our way, or someone else's way, of the path God intends to take us.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Seeing should lead to ...

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.
(Revelation 22:1-9 ESV)
Sight is a wonderful thing.  Just ask anyone who has lost it.  Sight allows us to respond.  It began with God at creation, as He responded to what He saw and called it good.  It will culminate in what we see in eternity.  People debate much about what John saw and what it means in The Revelation, but when all is said and done, the messenger makes it quite clear to Him why he has seen what he has seen: we are to keep the words of His book and to Worship God.  It is not so we will know more than anyone else or be able to avoid any of the challenges of this life.  It is to remind us to acknowledge that He is Truth, to exhort us to live lives of holiness here and now, and to have us practice what we will be doing for all of eternity: worshiping Him.  Hopefully you are going to practice that today. May we all get a glimpse of Him in His glory, listen to His call on our lives, and sense we are closer to seeing Him.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Since We Long to See Jesus...

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3 ESV)
The true follower of Christ sees the whole picture: His eternal Deity, His Incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension, and His Return.  We are looking forward to being with Him and seeing Him.  Since that is our faith and hope, what should be the affect on our lives now?  John is very clear: the pursuit of purity.  The writer of Hebrews puts it in terms of "setting aside the sin that so easily trips us up" in our following after Him. James talks about "keeping himself unstained by this world."  Waiting for Him is not a spiritually lazy "I'm good" type of life, but a passionate pursuit of having Him cleanse our lives as we anticipate being ready for His return.  Do we really want Him to come?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Looking Where We Want to See

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:1-14 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews uses this memorable picture of running the race with endurance as a challenge for us in living the Christian life.  At the beginning of the passage he tells us to look to Jesus and His example of endurance, as He focused on returning to be with the Father. In like manner, he challenges us to look to Him, despite the temptations, struggles, and corrections in this life, with a focus on where we want to be: where we will see Him.  The two legs upon which we are to run this race are right relationships with one another and holiness before God.  No excuses.  No loopholes. Running a straight race toward Him.  May we run well today.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Seeing God Now and in the Future.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16 ESV)
David did not always have an easy life.  He spent much of it on the run. Yet he came to know God dearly; he could see Him at work providing, guiding and protecting Him.  He was confident that this would continue into the future, beyond this time on earth.  Peter, in his sermon in Acts 2, notices that these words were also a fulfillment of Christ's resurrection - that we could see God in Christ, and in Him is our hope for eternity. Let us meditate on these truths written by David; let us see God in our lives today; let us life now in light of the promise that we will see Him where He is in times to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What we CAN see..

And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.
(Exodus 33:17-23 ESV)
Moses was becoming very close to God.  In his ongoing interactions with the LORD, he was getting an ever-increasing understanding of Who God is and what He wants. He wanted more. We're not ready for more.  But rather than dwelling on what we cannot see, God wants us to focus on what we can see and know about God and His will.  We can know His goodness, His mercy, and His grace.  We can experience all good things come from His hand; we can see His mercy on us as miserable failures; we can receive His grace as sinners who are recipients of His salvation.  If we see these things, and are thankful for them, we will have seen plenty until we see His glory in eternity.  We will still be overwhelmed by that glory(Revelation), but it will not be in such a shock that it strikes us dead.  Let us rejoice in what God does let us see about Him, and trust and hope for what is yet to come.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Struggling to See...

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Luke 19:1-7 ESV)
In this passage we find three people who see.  Zacchaeus struggles up the tree so he can see Jesus; Jesus sees him trying to see Him; "they" Jesus going to the home of Zacchaeus and are indignant.  Zacchaeus strived to be able to see Jesus; he knew there was something special about Him and that we have lost sight of Him.  Jesus always sees us - always knows whether we are seeking after Him. "They" did not care so much about seeing Jesus or Zacchaeus, living only to scrutinize both of them to feel better about themselves.  When Jesus comes our way, are we going to want to see Him? Are we so caught up in criticizing others we would miss Him right in front of us?  Are we prepared to see Him?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Afraid to see Jesus?

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.
(Luke 8:26-37 ESV)
Jesus had entered into a territory where spiritual darkness prevailed.  As He encountered the deepest of darkness, a man driven by demons, the man saw Him and fell before home. The man was caught in a battle for his soul. When Christ wins the battle with His Word, the man is left restored. Others come to see, and when the see the man, and see Jesus, they are afraid.  Rather than cheering and celebrating because the man was healed, and they were freed from his menacing behavior, they instead beg Jesus to leave.  They do not want to have Him around, to even see Him.  Do we really want to see Jesus? Do we want Him to come? Or would we rather Him leave our lives alone???

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Something to go with your sacrifice...

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:10-13 ESV)
When God rebuked Saul for his disobedience he made the classic statement that obedience is better than sacrifice.  When Jesus rebukes the Pharisees here it is similar in structure, but the particular point of obedience is "mercy."  Sacrifice is well and good, and a pleasing aroma to God, as long as it is offered in a humble, thankful, and loving way.  It is not merely a ritual or activity.  It is an expression of knowing the great sacrifice paid for us, our forgiveness, and our acceptance to God.  No sacrifice can compare to His.  Any "sacrifice" we make is but a reflection of His.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Simple, Seasoned Side-dish Sacrifice

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV)
Paul, near the end of his time on earth, had done it all. He had experienced every type of opposition for the gospel. He had learned what it means to be a "living sacrifice" for Christ.  But he did not view himself as some sort of "Holy Cow" or perfect lamb.  He saw himself as a drink offering, offered alongside the main Offering. He had a mature perspective on what God calls us to in sacrifice. It's not all about me, and what I give.  It's about being on board with Christ, being faithful, loving Him and longing for His presence.  It not some dramatic last-minute martyrdom, but a daily walk/race/fight against the forces of darkness.  We may be called on to leave this life in a blaze of glory, but more than likely it will be walking one step in this life, the next in the next.  May we appreciate the joy of being this kind of sacrifice, offering, follower of Christ.

Friday, February 12, 2016

THE Sacrifice

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
(Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)
This is the game-changer for sacrifice.  Christ gave Himself.  When He did, all other sacrifices are redefined.  Since HE did it "once for all" our sacrifices have changed form - are much more defined and purposeful.  We are to give ourselves and our service - not our animals, or even our sons - but who we are, what we do, what we live for.  We are to do so by "entering in" through Him, the door, and allowing His Spirit to transform our lives.  (Romans 12:1,2)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sacrifice is Deeper than the Surface...

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
(Daniel 9:20-23 ESV)
Daniel was nowhere near Jerusalem. Offering sacrifices to God was far from possible.  Yet his words, actions and experiences were those of one truly involved in sacrifice to God.  He was keenly aware of it begin time for the evening sacrifice at the temple.  He was praying when the offering of incense would traditionally be going up to God. He was attentive to what God was trying to say to Him. This is the heart of sacrifice - not some ritual or ceremony, but offering oneself and all one has to God, yet realizing what we really need is to receive from Him and trust in Him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Heart of Sacrifice

And Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has also rejected you from being king.
(1 Samuel 15:22-23 ESV)
Saul was proud and presumptuous. Not a good mix for pleasing God.  All of the sacrifices, offerings and rituals in the world will not offset a heart bent on disobeying and dishonoring God and His Word.  It is not that God did not want the offerings and sacrifices to be given. He did. But he wanted them from a humble, dependent, obedient heart.  A heart of sacrifice is full of thanksgiving, submission, and awe at the goodness and wisdom of God.  Whether it be celebrating a victory or entering a scary situation, sacrifice from the heart involves simply giving back to God what already belongs to Him, including our very lives.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Willing to Sacrifice...

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:1-8 ESV)
God was calling on Abraham to do the unthinkable - sacrifice His son.  On one hand, we see Abraham knew God well enough to know God would provide the sacrifice, and that he AND Isaac would be returning to the others. On the other hand, he makes every preparation EXCEPT bringing the actual sacrifice with them.  Whether it is facing an enormous trial or struggle, or gearing up for God to do something big (like begin a great people promised to Abraham), we must be prepared to sacrifice, even what is most important to us, as a demonstration of faith in our Sovereign Lord. We have no idea how it will all play out, but ultimately it will bring Him glory.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Right Response: Sacrifice

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (Genesis 4:1-5 ESV)
Crisis had come to earth.  When Adam and Eve fell, God provided a sacrifice for their covering.  The implication was that sacrifice is the right response to crisis.  Abel learned that; Cain did not. Even when confronted with his sin, Cain had no thoughts of responding accordingly.  Redemptive history goes on to talk about sacrifice as the proper response to God for his forgiveness and provision.  Yet, when crises come into our lives, how rarely do we think about sacrifice as the proper response.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why and How to Stay

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
(Philippians 1:18-30 ESV)
In Context, Paul is talking about what is best for the furtherance of the gospel.  His personal choice was for God to take him home, for persecution to have its ultimate success and martyr him.  But he was more committed to what God wanted to through him.  While he was waiting in jail, the Philippians were having some problems of their own, which was causing some to lose their joy. He wanted them to stay where they were, unified in spirit, to send a clear message to their persecutors that they really believed, and were confident in Christ of their ultimate salvation, whether it be by their death or Christ's return.  He wanted them, and us, to have the same perspective as he did, that we need to be ready to go or to stay, trusting in Him to decide where and when and how. May we be faithfully prepared.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Stay?

And Saul approved of his execution.
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts 8:1-3 ESV)
Throughout history, God's people have often been forced to flee for safety from persecution.  They still do today.  But some choose to stay, as the apostles did here?  Why stay? There work was not yet complete.  He had called them to stay, despite the opposition, the persecution, the suffering. Eventually most would move on, but for them, in that critical hour, the call was to stay.  They were ready.  When things get intense, when opposition to all we believe becomes overwhelming, are we prepared to hear what the Lord wants US to do: scatter or stay?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Staying to Keep things Stable...

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV)
Timothy had had the thrill of traveling with Paul on his missionary adventures. He had seen God do great things.  But sometimes he was "left behind", he had to stay at a church for an extended period to keep it sound and established, while Paul went on to new opportunities.  And it wasn't always easy. When things got rough, people got unruly, and Timothy had to hold things together.  Sometimes is just seems far easier to flee.  But sometimes that's what God calls us to do.  We'd rather run, but God wants us to stay out of love for those around us and stand for truth, maintaining the unity of the bond of peace.  So let us learn to listen, when to go and when to stay, knowing wherever we are true to Him is the place to be.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

He is worth staying around...

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
(Luke 22:24-30 ESV)
From the beginning of His ministry, these disciples had been "staying with Jesus."  They had not abandoned Him, even though most people had when He started making some hard statements.  Later that night they would face an opportunity to stay with Him in His most challenging hour, and they would leave.  It was a mistake they would not make again.  What is the key?  A Christ-like humility that says He is worth staying for; His people are worth sticking with; His plan is right, even when it brings opposition and exposes us to vulnerabilities.  May we stay.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sticking Around...

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king's court. (Daniel 2:46-49 ESV)
Daniel had just wowed the King by interpreting his dream.  He and his three friends had impressed the palace with their wisdom.  They were able to "find a job" anywhere in the realm they wanted. Daniel chose to stay in the king's court.  The roller coaster ride of love/hate between these men and the pagan culture in which they found themselves was far from over.  Daniel was committed to staying there.  He knew God could and would use him as a blessing and a rebuke to the empire, as well as making a difference in how his own people were treated in exile.  He chose to stay, despite the constant attacks of those who envied him.  It would have been far easier to get out of the limelight and gravitate to the fringe of the empire, but he stayed.  Sometimes God calls on us to stay, to stand, and see what more He will do where we are.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Reason to Remain

At the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, and said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the LORD, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the LORD your God and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them. (Jeremiah 42:7-17 ESV)
Jeremiah and those with him in Judea had seen the worst - corrupt leaders, the ravages of war, the collapse of their society.  Many were ready to run, lest they be killed or exiled like the others. But God said "stay."  Jeremiah's words of warning are this: "the way we got into this mess is by not listening to the Lord, not obeying His Word.  Let's not respond to this disaster by creating another, and refusing to listen to Him again."  Knowing when to stay or scoot can be a stressful, difficult decision, unless we are truly in tune with what He says.  Let's listen up so that when that hour comes (not if...) we will continue to listen to Him.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Stay Together...

But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.
(1 Samuel 22:20-23 ESV)
David and Abiathar had one big thing in common: Saul was out to get them.  David knew what it was to be on the run, fleeing for his life.  He did as much as he could to find places where he could settle for awhile and offer safety and security to his band of brothers.  Here he invites Abiathar.  We need to offer a safe haven to one another when the storms of life come, especially the most violent and critical ones.  May we as God's people develop that atmosphere that says "we're here for you when you need it most. Come, stay with me. We stay together as His family."